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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, March 27, 2023

The Creeping Flesh (1973)

Great poster!
The movie opens with someone visiting Professor Emmanuel Hildern, Peter Cushing’s character, in what is clearly some sort of asylum type setting. He goes on about evil as a disease and how he accidentally unleashed it back on the planet three thousand years early! Then we see how that happened in a flashback. Emmanuel is just returning from a trip to New Guinea with the bones of what he thinks is early man. He is trying to determine our origins and went fossil hunting. He is greeted by his daughter Penelope. He also returns home to a letter from his brother James, played by Christopher Lee, informing him that his wife has died.

James is also a scientist and runs an asylum. Emmanuel’s wife was institutionalized there for decades. Unfortunately, Penelope was told that she died so when the truth comes out she is rather angry. Also, Emmanuel finds out that if you get the bones he brought back New Guinea wet they start to grow flesh! From that flesh and reading books about the superstitions of the region he determines that they are the source of evil and that it is a disease. He creates an inoculation that in his mind will prevent someone from doing evil. He is afraid that Penelope has inherited her mother’s madness so of course he gives her a shot. One that actually infects her and things go downhill from there.

James finds out about the bones and wants them for his own research. He also locks up Penelope when she goes on a violent rampage. When he steals the bones it starts to rain and of course evil is reborn! Emmanuel also postulates that because it would have taken a couple thousand years for them to be exposed had he not dug them out he is responsible for bringing evil back to the Earth on a massive scale. Might also want to mention this movie takes place in the late eighteen hundreds right before a couple World Wars! Is that a coincidence?

Evil gave him the finger!
I know from poking around after watching The Creeping Flesh that a lot of folks have issues with it. I understand that seeing Lee and Cushing in a movie directed by Freddie Francis immediately makes people think Hammer and honestly it isn't as good as those movies. But on it’s own the movie isn’t too shabby. The actors are perfectly cast and by this time Cushing and Lee had a lot of screen chemistry and played off each other very well. The pacing is solid though I’ll admit there are a couple slow spots, but they always lead to a decent payoff. The movie is best when one or the pair of our lead actors are on screen. These guys make the most predictable of dialogue fun to watch thru their own charisma and talent.

There are some decent kills, though many are offscreen. A maid gets strangled (off-screen), a coachman gets his throat torn out (off-screen), a throat gets slashed, a face gouged, and a lunatic falls to his death. Though the best gag is the one they use to “grow” the flesh on the bones. If I had to guess they had some sort of material that melted off the prop and then reversed the footage, so it looked like it was growing back. It is a simple trick but works well. The reveal of the evil monster after it has returned to life is a bit silly but for the time The Creeping Flesh was made it was a respectable creature. I honestly don’t have any complaints.

I highly recommend this entertaining and informative movie. How is it informative you might ask? Well, if you in fact find an evil skeleton and cut off it’s finger to grow flesh and then freak out and burn it… well it may come looking for a replacement digit! Heh… check this one out.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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